Tim McClenathan prepares to hit a softball Wednesday night at Howelsen Hill. McClenathan is one of 11 members of the Routt County Pirates, a team of developmentally disabled adults, preparing to go to Lakewood for the Mile High Summer Classic Softball Tournament.

Photo by Luke Graham

Tim McClenathan prepares to hit a softball Wednesday night at Howelsen Hill. McClenathan is one of 11 members of the Routt County Pirates, a team of developmentally disabled adults, preparing to go to Lakewood for the Mile High Summer Classic Softball Tournament.

Routt County prepares for softball showdown

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Gary Nelson has three guarantees before he and the Routt County Pirates head to Lakewood for the Mile High Summer Classic Softball Tournament.

Nelson knows he's going to hit a home run, or possibly two; hit the swimming pool before and after the games; and without a doubt, have some fun.

Nelson and 10 other developmentally disabled adults - ages 16 and older - have been practicing for more than a month in preparation for the tournament, which starts Saturday.

"It's excellent," Nelson said at practice Wednesday night, shortly before putting on some catching gear. "I'm excited about everything. Going to Denver and meeting the other teams."

The team originally practiced in Memorial Park before moving to Klumker Field at Howelsen Hill.

This will be the second year a Steamboat team has competed in the Summer Classic tournament.

"It's great just seeing the progress last year to this year," said Chris Kuxhaus, a second-year volunteer coach. "The first practice of the year last year, half the team couldn't throw and catch on a consistent basis. This year they're all hitting it. The improvements are amazing."

Last year in Grand Junction, the Steamboat team finished 1-2.

That record didn't matter much to pitcher Tim McClenathan.

Although McClenathan said he's hoping to win at least one game this year, wins and losses aren't the only thing he's excited about.

"We're heading to Denver, and we're definitely hitting the swimming pool," McClenathan said. "As a team we have a pact that we're hitting the swimming pools."

Seth Sobeski is a new addition to the team, but he said he's had no problem fitting in. The left fielder said the best part of the practices, aside from learning from Kuxhaus, was just getting out and playing baseball with his friends.

"I want to win, but it's going to take everybody," Sobeski said. "My personal goal is to win with the team."

The team opens up play at noon Saturday and follows with a game at 1 p.m. Kuxhaus said games after that will be determined on how the bracket goes.

Still, the tournament isn't really about winning or losing, Kuxhaus said.

"It's been a great experience," he said. "For me, the best part is probably seeing the smiles on the faces out there."

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